Get your glucose tested at least every three years.
Why do you need blood sugar?
In fact, we are not talking about sugar, but about glucose. Sugar, like any other carbohydrate, is not directly absorbed by the body: it is broken down in the intestine to simple sugars (monosaccharides) and enters the bloodstream as glucose.
A healthy person weighing 70 kg constantly contains about 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of glucose.
This substance is the main source of energy for all cells in the body. It is thanks to him that we have the strength to breathe, move, learn and think.
How blood sugar is measured and what is considered normal
In international practice, blood sugar levels (glycemia) are measured in the so-called molar concentration – millimoles per liter (mmol / l). In the United States, Germany, and some other countries, the mass concentration is also common – in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). To convert one concentration to another, it is enough to remember the following equation: 1 mmol / L = 18 mg/dl.
A blood sugar test is done on an empty stomach – usually in the morning. This is important because any food you eat can raise your glucose levels.
You can take the analysis from a finger or from a vein. Venous blood tests give a more accurate result.
The norm of glucose in blood taken on an empty stomach from a vein is from 3.9 to 5.6 mmol / l (70-100 mg/dl).
If the test result is abnormal, this means the following:
- From 5.6 to 6.9 mmol / L – the so-called prediabetes. This is a mild rise in blood sugar, which means that there are processes in your body that increase your risk of developing diabetes.
- 7 mmol / l and above – hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose levels). Most often, the violation speaks of diabetes mellitus.
- Below 3.9 mmol / l – hypoglycemia (decrease in blood glucose levels). This is also an unhealthy condition that can be a sign of a number of disorders in the body.
Please note: when analyzing blood from a finger, the normal values shift – up to the range of 3.3–5.5 mmol / l.
Why does blood sugar change
The body regulates the amount of glucose in the blood by:
- enzymes that help break down carbohydrates in the intestines and thus affect the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream;
- hormones that determine how quickly the cells in the body will consume sugar from the blood.
The necessary enzymes are produced by the pancreas. It also produces insulin, a key hormone that helps cells metabolize glucose. If there is too little insulin or, for example, the cells for some reason stop responding to it (this is called insulin resistance), the blood sugar level rises. In the first situation, one speaks of type 1 diabetes, in the second, type 2 diabetes.
Work also affects glycemia:
- liver and kidneys, which cleanse the blood from excess glucose and remove the substance from the body;
- thyroid gland: hormones secreted by it determine the rate at which cells consume sugar from the blood;
- adrenal glands. This paired endocrine gland also produces hormones (such as adrenaline) that affect metabolic rate.
Why is the deviation of sugar levels from the norm dangerous?
Both hypo- and hyperglycemia affect well-being. The brain suffers first since its cells consume about half (up to 60% – if we are talking about a hungry or sedentary person) of all the energy supplied by glucose.
Dizziness, loss of concentration, weakness, darkening of the eyes, trembling hands are common symptoms for both low and high blood sugar. But in addition to feeling unwell, abnormal glycemia has other, more serious consequences.
With constant hyperglycemia, glucose accumulates in organs and tissues and becomes toxic – it begins to destroy the liver, kidneys, retina, blood vessels, heart, and nervous system. With a lack of sugar, the cells of the body are chronically lacking in nutrition, and this also leads to damage to vital organs.
Why is blood sugar elevated?
Most often this indicates a pre-diabetic state or already existing diabetes mellitus. However, other medical problems can also lead to high blood glucose levels.
Why is blood sugar low
Hypoglycemia is also a common companion to diabetes. It occurs when a person with the condition mistakenly takes too much insulin. But there are other possible reasons for the drop in blood glucose levels.
- Malnutrition. The blood sugar drops if you are on a too strict diet or have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia.
- Exercising too hard and too long. Let’s say you’ve just run a marathon, ridden a few tens of kilometers on a bicycle, or just dug a vegetable garden, forgetting about lunch.
- Hypothyroidism. This is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too few hormones.
- Diseases of the adrenal glands, pituitary gland, liver, or kidneys.
How to know if your blood sugar is abnormal
It is almost impossible to do this without a blood test. The fact is that the characteristic symptoms of a decrease or increase in glucose levels can be easily confused with ordinary fatigue or, for example, a reaction to changes in the weather.
In order not to miss the developing hypo- or hyperglycemia and the diseases that caused it, doctors – both the Western Blood sugar test and the Russian Instruction on the prevention of diabetes mellitus. Prevention of diabetes mellitus in men, women, and children – it is recommended to regularly test for blood sugar levels.
It is necessary to donate blood for sugar at least once every three years. This is especially important for people over 45.
In addition, it is recommended that the analysis be done as soon as possible if you have signs of diabetes:
- increased urination;
- you put on a lot of weight;
- your eyesight is getting worse;
- weakness regularly rolls up, up to darkening in the eyes.
What to do if your blood sugar is low or high
This situation must be discussed with the therapist. The doctor will determine the causes of hypo- or hyperglycemia, make an accurate diagnosis and give instructions on how to return glucose levels to normal.
Depending on the diagnosis, a doctor may prescribe medications. Some of them may have to be taken for life.